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Enlighten Up: Shiva Rea

“Move the way love moves; find the passion within compassion.” - Shiva Rea,

Just the other day I was accused by my beloved of being a “party poser.” Here’s the context. My boyfriend lives in Quebec, about an hour’s drive away from me, so we typically spend just the weekends together. By the time Friday rolls around, after a long week of classes and deadlines and unexpected dog emergencies, I’m ready to let my hair down and have some serious fun. I’m so ready, in fact, that I announce this intention aloud and with convincing wild abandon: “I’m so excited, Babe! I can’t wait to see you! Let’s go out for dinner and ‘party all night!’” My intentions are sincere, my enthusiasm is pure, and at that time (around 3:30 pm), my energy feels boundless. The problem is that, more often than not, dinner comes and goes and the allure of couch-lounging with Netflix becomes more appealing than anything associated with a party. Three episodes of Homeland and I’m dozing on the couch by ten, hence the name, Party Poser.

If only I had the energy and vitality of a true “party poser” like Shiva Rea. At 50 years of age, her yoga retreats look more like the keg parties I attended in high school or a trippy flashback of Woodstock than a disciplined spiritual practice. If you find yourself at a multicultural campfire with 30 of your closest friends, or you feel like you’re learning a new tribal dance on your yoga mat, rest assured you’ve entered the domain of this unique and world-renowned charismatic teacher.

Everything about Shiva Rea exudes passion, celebration, and joy; these are the expressions that fuel her extraordinary Vinyasa sequencing and unmatched grace on the mat.

One would assume that being named after a principal character in the Hindu religion would carry certain expectations--of enlightenment, perhaps, or at least profound spiritual wisdom. Shiva’s father was an artist and California surfer with a passion for all things Zen, and he named his daughter after the deity. In yogic lore, the godhead Shiva is considered the “ultimate destroyer.” In this sense, it would seem that Ms. Rea (an artist and creator above all else) has nothing in common with her namesake. But when the practice became instrumental to grieving the loss of her mother, Shiva’s destiny changed course to focus on the ancient art form. In line with the symbolism of Lord Shiva, death became the entry point for her new life.

Moderation best describes Shiva’s worldview. She doesn’t restrict her diet to raw foods or her practice time to 5 am. She brings the sacredness of tradition to the mundane aspects of life and encourages others to explore their own approach to the practice, too. Her libertarian perspective and all-around flexibility are as refreshing as her trademark Vinyasa is fluid and inspiring. She is a woman of the present, who is committed to celebrating the sanctity of an ancient past; she is a mover and a shaker, an activist and a creator, and a person we can proudly call the Modern Yogi.

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